ABBEVILLE — A wreath adorned with flowers wilting in the summer heat stands feet from where Deputy Allen Bares Jr. was shot to death a year ago, a memorial marker along a rural two-lane south of Abbeville in Vermilion Parish.
“We lost a good man,” Sheriff Mike Couvillon said last week as the anniversary of Bares’ death approached. The officer lost his life to a pair of killers on the afternoon of June 23, 2014, a Monday.
In the year since losing her husband, Bares’ wife, Tina, continues to cope with the loss. She took a few days off from her job at the Vermilion Parish Courthouse last week, and efforts to contact her were unsuccessful. Couvillon said Tina Bares has refused all media requests for interviews.
The fury immediately after his death — the manhunt and Bares’ funeral that was attended by hundreds — softened into quieter moments as the months passed. There have been somber memorial masses, including the latest last Tuesday at St. Theresa Catholic Church in Abbeville.
In early June Gov. Bobby Jindal signed off on legislation, sponsored by state Sen. Jonathan Perry of Kaplan, that named about 10 miles of U.S. 167 from Abbeville to Maurice the Deputy Allen Bares Jr. Memorial Parkway.
“Allen did what a good police officer would do,” Couvillon said, recalling the day Bares, 51, was killed.
Bares was off duty and mowing a lawn for extra money when he saw two young men in a car leave a home on South Hospital Drive. Suspecting a burglary had occurred, Bares called the Vermilion Parish Sheriff’s Office dispatch and followed Quintylan Richard and Baylon Taylor. Bares caught up with Richard and Taylor after they ran their car into a ditch.
According to an account of the incident written by Louisiana State Police, which investigated the killing, both suspects said in interrogations that Bares identified himself as an officer, then he was shot.
State Police have not said who they suspect pulled the trigger, or if both of them had guns and fired.
“Three shots,” Floyd Boudreaux said last week, remembering the crime that occurred about 100 feet and across the street from his Hospital Drive home.
Boudreaux, a retired carpenter who raises cattle, was at home watching television when he heard the first shot, a pause, then two more in a rapid fashion.
“Then after the shots, one of the fellows comes walking to my mailbox. Then he started walking back fast,” he said.
Richard and Taylor, who both had criminal records, drove off in Bares’ truck. Within 12 hours, both were captured, and within months both were charged with capital first-degree murder and numerous other felonies.
Now, their attorneys are trying to keep them off death row.
In October, Richard’s lead attorney, Thomas Alonzo, filed a document that indicated Richard may be mentally incompetent to stand trial. Alonzo declined to delve into Richard’s possible mental issues last week, saying “This is really a sensitive case.”
Alonzo did say he and Richard’s other lawyers might ask to move the trial from Vermilion Parish.
According to court filings, Richard’s trial is scheduled for next April but Ayo and Alonzo said that date likely would be pushed back.
Taylor’s case file, meanwhile, shows little progress toward a trial.
Ted Ayo, who is with the 15th Judicial District Attorney’s Office and will prosecute both defendants, said the cases have been separated. Richard’s case is before state District Judge Marilyn Castle, Ayo said,while Taylor’s is before state District Judge Thomas Duplantier.
Both defendants have remained locked up since their arrests, and Richard has managed to get in trouble again.
In October 2014, according to a police report, Richard screamed “I killed a cop” to a corrections guard in the Lafayette Parish Correctional Center. Richard is accused of hitting the guard with a cup the next night, an attack that required six stitches to the guard’s face and five staples to his scalp.
After the attack, Richard was transferred to the Elayn Hunt Correctional Center in St. Gabriel. He currently is back in the Lafayette jail.
Sheriff Couvillon said Bares’ death was a stark reminder of the danger law officers face.
“When we wake up in the morning and go to work, there’s always a question of if we’ll return home.”